5 Tips For Staying Healthy When You’re Sitting At A Desk All Day

stretches for people who sit all day
photo: The Pilates PT

 

Those of you who came to the Career Girl Academy will remember Hollie Grant as the Pilates PT who’s trained Deliciously Ella and created the model method. She’s seriously lovely and wants to change our attitudes towards health, one of the things we’re all guilty of is spending too long sitting down. So we caught up with her to ask her how to stay healthy when you sit all day…

Most of us now live a much more sedentary life than we did say 50 years ago. This has led to an increase in chronic back pain, poor posture and the breathing and digestive issues that come with this. Sitting at a desk all day and staring down at our laptops or phones has such a negative impact on our posture that it can lead to neck tension, kyphosis (or more unpleasantly named a hunchback) and even migraines.

Want to undo all that damage? Here are my top tips…

1. Make sure you are sitting right

Your feet should sit flat on the floor (if they don’t put a footstool under your feet) they should not be crossed or tucked under your chair. Your knees should be at 90 degrees as should your hips. If they are not you should adjust the height of your chair. The top of your screen should be at eye level to prevent you having to look down at your screen and when you’re typing your elbows should be at 90 degrees.

2. Strap yourself in

This may seem a bit kinky/weird/awkward but tying your upper back to your chair is a great reminder to not slump. Take a resistance band, belt or dressing gown cord and have someone tie it around the back of your chair. Pass the ends under your armpits and tie it around the front of your chest. This will make it almost impossible for you to start to slump and pull away from your chair back. Over time the habit of sitting up straight (and the strength required to do so) will follow. But it’s probably better to do this at home…

 

3. Work those glutes

When we sit down we lengthen our glutes eg they stretch. When we stretch a muscle we effectively switch it off. Ok so if we spend more time switching it off than we do switching it on it will become lazy (if you don’t use it you lose it). Make sure that you really focus on using your glutes as often as possible.

1) While standing and waiting for the printer/kettle/toilet squeeze your glutes together for 10 seconds and rest.
2) Repeat 6 times.
3) When walking up the stairs press your weight into your front leg to activate the glutes.
4) When you’re at the gym doing squats and lunges, make sure your toes are lifted and your heels are heavy to engage the glutes rather than the quads (thighs).

4. Stretch your hip flexors

When seated we shorten our hip flexors and over time they sort of shrink. This means that when we stand up they keep pulling us forwards causing a tilt in our pelvis. We must try to stretch and lengthen these out as much as possible to balance this back out.

1) Start by kneeling on the floor and bring your left foot forward onto the floor almost into a kneeling lunge.
2) Push your hips forwards whilst reaching your right arm up towards the ceiling. As you push your hips forward you should feel a stretch in your right hip flexor (especially if you squeeze your right glute).
3) Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

5. Strengthen your upper back

Leaning forward all day makes our upper back muscles weaken. This means that even when we want to sit up straight our upper back muscles can only manage it for a limited time. We must strengthen our upper back muscles to oppose the temptation to lean forwards.

1) Start by lying on your tummy, feet hip distance apart, legs straight and hands under your forehead like a little pillow.
2) Breathe in and as you exhale start to lift your hands, head, and chest away from the floor bringing your body into a long line (don’t come up too high).
3) Inhale to stay and then exhale to come back down with control. Repeat 6 times and then take a child’s pose to rest.

Featured photo: Glassons

LET’S CHAT

Any questions or comments for Hollie about health or getting in shape? Pop them in the box below!


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photo: The Pilates PT

 

Those of you who came to the Career Girl Academy will remember Hollie Grant as the Pilates PT who’s trained Deliciously Ella and created the model method. She’s seriously lovely and wants to change our attitudes towards health, one of the things we’re all guilty of is spending too long sitting down. So we caught up with her to ask her how to stay healthy when you sit all day…

Most of us now live a much more sedentary life than we did say 50 years ago. This has led to an increase in chronic back pain, poor posture and the breathing and digestive issues that come with this. Sitting at a desk all day and staring down at our laptops or phones has such a negative impact on our posture that it can lead to neck tension, kyphosis (or more unpleasantly named a hunchback) and even migraines.

Want to undo all that damage? Here are my top tips…

1. Make sure you are sitting right

Your feet should sit flat on the floor (if they don’t put a footstool under your feet) they should not be crossed or tucked under your chair. Your knees should be at 90 degrees as should your hips. If they are not you should adjust the height of your chair. The top of your screen should be at eye level to prevent you having to look down at your screen and when you’re typing your elbows should be at 90 degrees.

2. Strap yourself in

This may seem a bit kinky/weird/awkward but tying your upper back to your chair is a great reminder to not slump. Take a resistance band, belt or dressing gown cord and have someone tie it around the back of your chair. Pass the ends under your armpits and tie it around the front of your chest. This will make it almost impossible for you to start to slump and pull away from your chair back. Over time the habit of sitting up straight (and the strength required to do so) will follow. But it’s probably better to do this at home…

 

3. Work those glutes

When we sit down we lengthen our glutes eg they stretch. When we stretch a muscle we effectively switch it off. Ok so if we spend more time switching it off than we do switching it on it will become lazy (if you don’t use it you lose it). Make sure that you really focus on using your glutes as often as possible.

1) While standing and waiting for the printer/kettle/toilet squeeze your glutes together for 10 seconds and rest.
2) Repeat 6 times.
3) When walking up the stairs press your weight into your front leg to activate the glutes.
4) When you’re at the gym doing squats and lunges, make sure your toes are lifted and your heels are heavy to engage the glutes rather than the quads (thighs).

4. Stretch your hip flexors

When seated we shorten our hip flexors and over time they sort of shrink. This means that when we stand up they keep pulling us forwards causing a tilt in our pelvis. We must try to stretch and lengthen these out as much as possible to balance this back out.

1) Start by kneeling on the floor and bring your left foot forward onto the floor almost into a kneeling lunge.
2) Push your hips forwards whilst reaching your right arm up towards the ceiling. As you push your hips forward you should feel a stretch in your right hip flexor (especially if you squeeze your right glute).
3) Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

5. Strengthen your upper back

Leaning forward all day makes our upper back muscles weaken. This means that even when we want to sit up straight our upper back muscles can only manage it for a limited time. We must strengthen our upper back muscles to oppose the temptation to lean forwards.

1) Start by lying on your tummy, feet hip distance apart, legs straight and hands under your forehead like a little pillow.
2) Breathe in and as you exhale start to lift your hands, head, and chest away from the floor bringing your body into a long line (don’t come up too high).
3) Inhale to stay and then exhale to come back down with control. Repeat 6 times and then take a child’s pose to rest.

LET’S CHAT

Any questions or comments for Hollie about health or getting in shape? Pop them in the box below!


Sign up for our newsletter and stay up to date

Beth Macdonald

Managing Editor

I'm the Managing Editor of CGD. I'm a graduate of the Penguin Writer's Academy and have published a short story. I specialize in copywriting, digital marketing, and research.